Choosing A Video Camera
My wife is saving up to buy a video camera and I would appreciate your opinion. Is this a good camera or should she keep on looking?
Personally I think it’s a lot of money but hey, she’s been wanting one of these things for a long time. What Sofia wants, Sofia gets! :cool:
It looks like an option.
That has a harddrive, not a DV tape deck. This means several things--
1. No need for tapes... good.
2. No way to back up using tapes... bad.
3. To back up you need to use hard drive space on your computer. Video adds up FAST!
4. 30GB sounds like a lot, but really isn't. 5 minutes per gigabyte is about the right ratio for DV quality video, and that means you would get 30*5/60... 2.5 hours of video. That's not too bad. But a tape records 1 hour, and you could have a lot with you. Just don't run out of space while out on location, or at a birthday party, or whatever she will be filming.
5. However, it seems to claim you can record 7 hours at high quality "DVD Video"... this is actually a bad thing. DVDs use MPEG2 compression which looks fine, but is terrible to edit later. If she just wants to record to capture things, that's fine. But for a serious filmmaker, this is bad. It also could potentially be harder to do anything with the footage (editing, etc.). This compression, for example, makes taking out a bluescreen very hard, if she is interested in anything that advanced. What it does is creates sets of 15 frames, with limited data in each frame, so it ends up just recording the changes... basically. This is limiting for any frame-by-frame changes to the video, in terms of FX. However, it looks quite good, and could also save some space. But it won't be the same quality as a DV camcorder, I don't think, unless it allows you that mode. As for the 21 hours it claims, that's going to be quite low quality, I think. As I said... full quality is 5min/gb, and now.... (2/3)hr/gb? Not sounding too good.
6. Battery life looks good. 10 hours... but... only 2.5 hours of space on the HD, so that's irrelevant, unless you plan to spend a lot of time not recording.
7. Nice zoom on that. It's great to have a 40x lens. Optical zoom is good, and digital zoom is bad (just zooming in the pixels), so many cameras claim "400x digital zoom", which means nothing... just a waste of money for that "feature". The optical zoom here is nice, so... good.
8. The night mode is good for capturing your kids' birthday parties and such, but silly for a serious filmmaker. Again, the reason she wants this is important.
9. Focus is a problem here. If you want to do manual focus this is bad as it requires using the touch screen. Very slow and tedious. A focus ring is much better. However, autofocus will be used if this is for family things, but not for a serious filmmaker.
10. The CCD (chip that captures the image, like the film in a film camera) is small. The better cameras use three chips-- one for red, one for green and one for blue, but this just has one for all three. This is typical of the "consumer" cameras versus the "prosumer" cameras, but this is also an expensive camera not to have that, and there are some available that do have 3 chips in that range. The size is also very important. This is 1/6", about as small as they get. Note that you need to look in the fine print to even find this out. This is a big downside, I'd say, in terms of quality, though, not being into serious filmmaking (assuming that is the case), she may not notice.
Anyway... seems like an option.
The most important thing with a camera is the feel. Go to the store, pick it up. See if you're happy. If not, DO NOT GET IT! If so, then see if the specs are right, and go for it if you're happy.
I got an XL1 about two years ago, which is a very nice prosumer camera. I hated the feel of it. So that made me, in the end, sell it and get a "lesser" camera, though I actually think it has better quality anyway. But the point is... don't get a camera you don't like the feel of.
Is it ok that it has a touch screen with hard to access controls?
This means everything manual will be hard to do (like focus, shutter speed, white balance)... all things that may mean nothing to you if you aren't into serious filmmaking.
Is the LCD big enough and in the right spot?
Do you like how heavy it is?
That was a fantastic response... Thank you very much... :)
What if any would you recommend?
After reading what you said I’m sure she could get a better deal for the price she’ll be paying. She would be burning her videos to disk so I don’t think that space is a problem. However, I’d hate for her to get ripped-off. She’s been saving up for this thing for a while now and of course I want her to get her moneys worth. $800.00 is a lot of money for us so your help is appreciated.
It's hard to say.
Direct to DVD cameras are a good option if she just plans to burn everything anyway. You are stuck with MPEG2 compression, but it will look ok to your eye and only cause problems with a lot of manipulation. If you are only saving to DVD anyway, then this will be the same quality, so no big deal.
The mini DVDs required can be a bit expensive.
I don't use or know that much about tapeless cameras (DVD or HDD), so it's hard to say about that.
The most important things as I see them--
Image quality (look carefully, since all will claim good quality)
optical Zoom (40x above is good)
Low light ability, since it's annoying to try to film at night and not get a good image
Good luck with the search.
I really do recommend just going to the store and picking up the cameras to see if she likes the feel of them.
And, while you're there, point them at the same thing and compare quality.
Sounds good… We may go and check some out today and of course we’ll take what you said with us. I don’t mean that I’ll print what you said, but that we’ll remember what you said. Hopefully we’ll be able to share a few videos with you guys soon. My wife loves nature so she should end up with something beautiful to watch.
Thanks again for your help. It is appreciated!
Hmmm... if you're interested in filming for aesthetic value, looking into HD* might be a good idea.
(High definition, not hard drive)
It's a bit expensive now, but I think you can get it for around that price range, for the lower end models.
However, it's expensive, huge files, and very hard to distribute. If your main goal is to just watch it from the camera on your own HD tv, then it'll work well. But burning to disc and such becomes complex.
So... maybe just a good idea, but the technology isn't quite ready yet.
Anyway, just a thought.
Well she finally made up her mind and decided to go with a Sony HandyCam DCR DVD108.
You can see it Here
She paid $550.00 before taxes which I think is pretty good.
Problem is, they didn’t give us any good editing software – just the very basics.
So now I’m on the hunt for some good editing software. She’s basically looking for software that would allow her to place music in the background, scrolling text, fade in/out between scenes, ghost images and of course being able to convert the video.mpeg-2 into video.wmv.
So… If you know what were looking for we sure would appreciate hearing from you.
I think that Nero (not sure of the site right now) has made a Video Editting Suite that does just what you are asking. Then, or course, there is Window Move Maker (which comes pre-installed with Windows Systems (XP Home+)). I knew of another one, but can't remember the name of it. I will have to call my brother about it, and as soon as I find out I'll let you know.
Hope this helps.
I heard of Nero once today but didn't think on giving them a try. By the way, what format do I need to have the video in to use Windows video maker? Tried using it but it does't want anything to do with .mpeg-2
Thanks and I hope to hear back from you once you get a hold of your brother.
I think with Windows Video Maker you have to have the file formats as either avi or wmv (not 100% on that though). Anyways, I just talked to my brother about that program, and got some bad news (sort of). He doesn't remember what the name of it is either. He had it on his computer before he had to reformat and didn't write the name down. Sorry, but I will look around Google for anything that sounds familiar (spelling?).
Anyways, hope this helps.